We now have our very own superhero in the 613! Ottawa SpiderMan records personalized video messages in a professional Spider-Man costume all while supporting multiple local charities. We met with the man behind the mask to see how Ottawa SpiderMan was born:
Apt613: What prompted you to start this initiative?
Ottawa SpiderMan: When Spider-Man was released in 2002, I had to be dragged to the cinema to see it. When the credits rolled, I had done a complete 180–I LOVED IT! My inner dork exploded and I knew I wanted a really great Spider-Man costume.
Fast forward almost 20 years, in July 2021, the pandemic had been dragging on and I had the urge to spread a bit of good. I ordered my first suit, the Miles Morales one from Into the Spiderverse. I suited up, mustered up all my courage, and headed out on walks throughout the summer, to chat people up and make them smile. It’s not every day you see Spider-Man walking around town! It was really well received and so my confidence grew.
The pandemic had been dragging on for over a year and I had the urge to do something to help spread a bit of good. That’s when I ordered my first suit, the Miles Morales one from Into the Spiderverse.
My beloved senior dog Dora was an instrumental part of becoming SpiderMan. In the fall of 2021, the situation in veterinary clinics was tough. My local vet clinic had been really great in helping Dora feel her best, so I decided to surprise them as Spider-Man and bring a few gifts in appreciation. It was loads of fun!
From there, when thinking of a way to grow, I remembered that a local photographer did a fundraiser for Sit With Me Rescue in the summer of 2018–you get a photoshoot with your pet in exchange for a donation. I adapted that idea and took inspiration from Cameo.com to fundraise for charities near and dear to me.
I’m a big dork and it was the perfect reason to justify getting an awesome Spider-Man costume with great motivation to put it to good use! People make a donation to one of the targeted charities in exchange for a personalized video greeting from Spider-Man. The target charities are the Ottawa Food Bank, the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, Freedom Dog Rescue, and Sit With Me Rescue. When Russia invaded Ukraine, I expanded the eligible charities to include the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.
I wanted to make people smile and was fortunate to be in a position where I could. Spider-Man is such a great character, it feels amazing to embody and play the part!
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Apt613: How has the community response been?
OS: People have been very receptive to it and I have received a lot of positive feedback from people that have made donations for videos. I quickly discovered there is a giant Spider-Man cosplay community, and I even found another Ottawa Spider-Man who goes by Yow.Spidey on Instagram. He has been very supportive in helping me grow my presence; he is also very much involved in charity work and recently collaborated with me on a birthday video.
Getting the word out has been a challenge. Combined with being a complete social media newbie, it’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve had a lot of help from friends though! I reached out to all city councillors to see if they could include a short blurb in their newsletters or social media, but only very few got back to me. Those who did were very supportive and generated a noticeable bump in interest! I’ve still got a few ideas for how to keep spreading the word, one of which was talking to Apt613–I am truly grateful that you are supportive of this project and willing to shine some light on it!
Apt613: Tell us about your new initiatives, such as superhero gathering for Free Comic Book Day and participating in the Sit With Me auction.
OS: The last few months have been fairly busy and the summer is starting off strong with some great events! There was a vaccine clinic with Ottawa Public Health, the CN Cycle for CHEO, Free Comic Book Day, and several items in the Sit With Me Spring Auction. I can’t take credit for the CN Cycle event, nor the Free Comic Book Day one, the lead on those was the League of Ottawa Superheroes. I discovered this group a few months ago and joined–they do amazing work, mainly doing charity events in support of CHEO. Back to the auction, I want to take a moment to highlight Meagan Boileau who reached out to me and pitched the idea of collaborating to offer a photo shoot as an auction item.
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In terms of upcoming initiatives, I am attending the Great Glebe Garage sale on May 28th. Freedom Dog Rescue will be there, so I’ll be hanging with them and spreading awareness of this project. You might also catch me walking around town in different neighbourhoods, to make people smile and spread the word!
Apt613: Where do you source your costumes and props?
OS: The black and red Miles Morales costume is from Spiderheroes on Etsy and the red and blue costume is a replica of the suit in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made by The RPC Studio. I have a total of three faceshells, which help give that static and smooth Spider-Man face shape.
Apt613: What’s the one unexpected thing you learned from this project?
OS: Boy, I have learned A LOT. If I have to choose just one thing, dance belts are a thing and they are VERY important/necessary!